In its latest iteration, DutyFreeZone.com, which has been in business since 1998 and is a registered Trade Mark with the U.S. Patent office, has developed a multi-vendor marketplace platform that will enable customers to purchase duty free products as duty paid, for delivery in their own country, explains company founder Reynald Grattagliano.
“Due to the COVID-19 situation, international travel has declined significantly resulting in far fewer international travelers. Most Duty Free stores are closed and sales are being hit significantly. In order to enable Duty Free Stores to monetize their bonded stock, the marketplace will enable customers to purchase online and have the product shipped to them locally (in country, duty paid).
“Once travel resumes, the market-place will be able to facilitate duty free sales for travelers once again but still offering the duty paid option as well,” Grattagliano tells TMI. “Additionally the marketplace will also support travelers to purchase duty free products via “Click and Collect” when they are traveling,” he adds.
Under the Duty Free Zone concept, duty free shops operators and big brands are in fact opening their own virtual store on DutyFreeZone.com.
“DutyFreeZone.com is a facilitator and never the owner of the merchandise,” says Grattagliano. “The retailer or supplier takes care of the shipping to control their entire business. DutyFreeZone.com will be only an intermediary.”
DutyFreeZone.com will make a small profit from the sales and will process the payment (similar to the way Amazon operates, he says).
Explaining further, Grattagliano says that like with a Travel Value or Duty Paid option, the duty free shops on the platform will clear the merchandise with local customs and ship to consumers shopping on DutyFreeZone.com.
The site will display only original brands and the brand owners will decide their own retail pricing, he notes. “That way everybody is protected, and the duty free shop will stay alive and open.”
“Many duty free shops have the ability today to ship goods duty free or duty paid, but consumers do not find them and do not shop on duty free shops websites. Our website will direct consumers to their closest duty free retailer. In a year or two, [I see] DutyFreeZone.com becoming the only option that is coming to the traveler’s mind because DutyFreeZone.com is going to be a gigantic marketplace for travelers, targeting travelers with incredible offers that they cannot ignore,” he says.
Retailers currently featured on the DutyFreeZone website range from global brands like Duty Free Americas, Dufry and DFS, to more regional operators like John Bull in the Bahamas, Heritage Quay in Antigua y Barbuda, etc. Grattagliano says that an average of 10- new operators sign on each day. The site appears to be carrying a full range of product categories as well, from accessories, watches, jewelry and gifts, to beauty and wines & spirits, among others.
Once travel resumes, the marketplace will be able to facilitate duty free sales for travelers once again but still offering the duty-paid option as well.
Eventually, Grattagliano envisions that the site will encompass a full range of travel operations and services, including hotels, car rentals and air tickets.
“For now, we are going to help thousands of duty free shop stay alive being their allies, and the brands are loving this,” says Grattagliano.